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Columbia Police Officer Fired For Shredding Documents, Recording Conversation

7:49 PM, Jul 15, 2013   |    comments
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Dave Navarro (Image: Columbia Police Dept.)

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The City of Columbia terminated Captain Dave Navarro from the Columbia Police Department Monday, saying he violated city policy.

City Manager Theresa Wilson says Navarro admitted to recording a conversation between him and interim Chief Ruben Santiago, and shredding city documents. 

"Our employee handbook does not allow the unauthorized or unapproved recordings to take place and he recorded and admitted to recording his supervisor without him knowing that and that is a clear violation of city policy," said City Manager Theresa Wilson.  "In addition, after his suspension last week, Captain Navarro was found shredding some documentation over in the police department and we're still investigating that."

The city attempted to terminate Navarro Friday, but was unable to make contact with the former CPD Captain.  Wilson said he stopped showing up for work July 10th.

Wilson said because she could not contact Navarro personally, she sent a notice of termination to his attorney.

"I'm not sure why he would get a lawyer," Wilson said.

In a sword affidavit though, Navarro says he was fired for blowing the whistle on a illegal plan to get a city employee fired.

"Interim Chief Santiago wanted me to use my position as commander for the drug suppression team to gain access to stolen gun powder cocaine from a crime scene," Navarro said in the affidavit.  "Interim Chief Santiago told me the next time a case involving cocaine and a stolen gun came in, that he and I would go to the scene, take control of the scene and send the other officers away."

Navarro served with CPD for over two- years and was most recently Captain of Community Services, which made him commander of the city's drug suppression team.

"He proposed the same illegal plan on three seperate occasions," Navarro said in the affidavit, which named the plan 'black-ops.'

Navarro said the stolen and cocaine would be planted in the Assistant City Manager's car to get him fired.  Navarro's story alleges the plan would ultimately allow former police chief Randy Scott to take over that job in city hall. 

"This kind of over the top, scandalous really, type commentary by Mr. Navarro ... I certainly hope that we will have the proper outside agency to investigate and put all of that to rest," the city manager said.

In his Community Services role, Navarro was also involved with the Columbia Police Foundation.

The City Manager and Police Chief have not said if any money is missing from the foundation but called Navarro's shredding of documents "suspicious."

When asked about the possibility of missing funds, Interim Chief Ruben Santiago said, "That's what we're investigating. We have to look at every angle of what would cause this suspicious behavior."

While a CPD internal investigation is already underway, SLED spokesman Thom Berry says, "We are looking into the allegation but have not begun an investigation.  If we determine that an investigation is appropriate, we will do so."

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